Italian Tornados relieve Eurofighters on deployment in Kuwait

The Italian Air Force (ItAF) has deployed an unspecified number of Panavia Tornado IDS ground attack/strike aircraft to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait as part of its latest Task Group Devil detachment to the Middle East region.

The Tornados – which are operated by the ItAF’s 6° Stormo (Wing) at Ghedi Air Base in northern Italy – arrived at Ali Al Salem on January 14, with in-flight refuelling support provided by KC-767A tankers from 14° Stormo at Pratica di Mare Air Base in central Italy. The arrival of the Tornados in Kuwait also marks the simultaneous exit of the ItAF-operated Eurofighter F-2000As assigned to Task Group Typhoon from Kuwait. The changeover was marked by a handover ceremony, which involved a symbolic handshake between the commanders of the two Task Groups.

The two ItAF commanders of Task Group Typhoon (left) and Task Group Devil (right) symbolically shake hands during a handover ceremony at Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait, following the Tornado IDS detachment’s arrival on January 14.
The two ItAF commanders of Task Group Typhoon (left) and Task Group Devil (right) symbolically shake hands during a handover ceremony at Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait, following the Tornado IDS detachment’s arrival on January 14. ItAF

Having first being deployed to Kuwait in 2019, the four F-2000As that made up Task Group Typhoon flew surveillance and reconnaissance missions – using the Rafael Reccelite II tactical reconnaissance pod (which was integrated onto the Italian F-2000A fleet in 2015) – in support of Operation Prima Parthica, the Italian contribution to the US-led coalition effort to quash Daesh (ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria. Over time, Task Group Typhoon involved a continuous rotation of flight personnel and specialists from the ItAF’s Eurofighter wings: 4° Stormo (Grosseto Air Base), 36° Stormo (Gioia del Colle Air Base), 37° Stormo (Trapani-Birgi Air Base) and 51° Stormo (Istrana Air Base). In December 2023 – as the detachment was preparing to return home – the Task Group surpassed the milestone of 8,000 flight hours being flown in support of Prima Parthica.

This latest Task Group Devil deployment marks a welcome return for the Italian Tornado fleet to Kuwait. From 2014 to 2016, the Task Group was deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, and from 2020 to 2021, the ItAF alternated Tornado deployments to Kuwait with the A-11B Ghibli (AMX) as part of Task Group Black Cats, as well as with the F-2000As assigned to Task Group Typhoon. Such deployments to Kuwait in support of Operation Prima Parthica began on October 17, 2014.